In the few weeks since its first interest meeting on March 24, Wesleyan’s new sorority Rho Epsilon Pi (Rho Ep) has expanded to roughly 130 members. Although all interested students were allowed entrance into the sorority this spring, there will be a formal rush and pledge process next fall. Rho Ep is open to anyone who identifies as female.
“We don’t have a goal size for the sorority, but we do want to make sure that the size is such that we are able to effectively achieve our mission statement,” said Rho Epsilon Pi Vice President Melody Oliphant ’13. “We don’t want the sorority to be so big that the girls don’t actually know each other.”
The group has been involved in organizing many events this month including a mixer for all campus Greek organizations at Downtown Bar and Grill, a Toga Party at Beta Theta Pi (Beta), a Blacklight rave in collaboration with Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) in 200 Church, and Zonker Harris Day. They are also selling Spring Fling tank tops to raise money for the H.E.R.A. Women’s Cancer Foundation.
Psi Upsilon (Psi U) brother Adam Forbes ’13, noted that the sorority is unusually large for a Greek organization.
“I like that they’re organizing something to combat [the male domination of the social scene],” Forbes said. “But I think that having 130 members is a bit ridiculous. The point of having a Greek society is, not necessarily exclusivity, but having a filtering system. There has to be trust, and I think that’s difficult to achieve with such a large group.”
Rho Ep’s mission includes efforts to create more of a female presence in the campus social scene.
“The entire impetus for forming the sorority was to create agency for women on this campus in Wesleyan’s social scene,” Oliphant said. “And to create an accepting and welcoming environment where girls felt comfortable socially.”
However, the creation of a sorority at Wesleyan, which hasn’t had a large sorority in the past, has prompted a great deal of discussion.
“As a Wesleyan student, I am keeping an open mind,” said Laura Cohen ’14. “However, I was very surprised at the widespread appeal it received. My understanding of its purpose is social networking and mixers, and I am not interested myself.”
President Michael Roth expressed approval for the creation of Rho Epsilon Pi as a student group.
“I think if students want to join a club, it’s great,” he said. “I saw the mission statement, it seemed really thoughtful, I think it could be a really good thing. We’ll see how it develops.”
Roth confirmed that the sorority would not be allowed to have a house, at least in the near future.
“There’s no law [prohibiting members of a sorority from having a house], it’s just that we’re not establishing any new single-sex houses that would be associated with Greek life,” he said. “But in terms of establishing a new single-sex residential Greek organization, it’s not going to happen any time soon.”
Though the members of Rho Ep are aware of the administrations’ reluctance to grant housing to new Greek organizations, they remain optimistic that the group might get space on campus in the future.
“Ideally sometime in the future we would have a house,” Oliphant said. “But it’s definitely not something I see happening necessarily even in the next two years. Their unwillingness to expand Greek life specifically is certainly frustrating, especially when there have been expansions to program housing over the past couple years.”
Members of Rho Ep remain committed to their organization, despite criticisms from some other students.
“If these many women find the sorority to be a positive outlet, and it’s helping them to realize their agency on campus, to build confidence in themselves, and also just to create new friendships, I don’t see why anyone would stand in the way of it, especially since it doesn’t necessarily affect them at all.”